Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red Egg and Ginger

Aside from being the birthday weekend of yours truly, this weekend marked a special celebration for friends of Mr. and Mrs. ShellHawk.

A Red Egg and Ginger Party.


If you've not heard of this tradition, don't feel badly. We were in the dark, too. We got the invitation from our friends a few weeks ago, and had some time to do a little research on the topic (so we didn't look too ignorant!).

A Chinese tradition, the Red Egg and Ginger celebration marks the end of the first month of life for their new baby. Traditionally, the baby wasn't named until this time because of the high infant mortality rate. At one month, it was a safe bet the child would live, so the baby was brought out into the community to be named.

The child was either given a "milk name," (a temporary name used to fool evil spirits until the child started school or was married) or a formal name. The grandparents were often given the honor of naming the child, though sometimes the task was given to a fortune-teller. Remember that many cultures hold that a name means something and can bring that person luck, and that to know someone's true-name was to have power over them.

Traditionally, the child's head was shaven at this time; girls in front of an image of the Goddess of Children, the boys in front of the family altar. It was a symbolic shedding of dependence, and for girls it was believed the shaving would bring more lustrous hair.

It should come as no surprise to our pagan brethren that the red egg symbolizes fertility (that's also where dyeing Easter eggs had its start), and the color itself represents happiness and good luck. Red eggs are given by the family to the guests, as well as ginger. The ginger (yang, which is warm) adds a touch of "hotness" to the new mother's diet, who is weak (too yin, or cold) after the birth of the child. Traditional gifts to give are lucky money or clothing. I had knitted a little hat for the baby girl, so we were covered.

It was a great honor for us to be a part of the celebration, and we wish the happy couple and their new little one happiness, health, and prosperity!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Who Died?

The quiz is "Who Died On Your Birthday?" Since I was feeling a bit morbid about my birthday, I had to find out.

128,988 People

People who died on March 27, 1968 (the exact day you were born)

  • Yuri Gagarin, Soviet cosmonaut

Natural disasters in 1968

  • 1968 Casiguran earthquake

People who died on March 27 (various years)

  • 2007 - Paul Lauterbur, American chemist, Nobel laureate
  • 2006 - Lyn Nofziger, American journalist and political advisor to Ronald Reagan
  • 2006 - Ruari McLean, British typographer
  • 2006 - Stanisław Lem, Polish writer
  • 2006 - Dan Curtis, American television producer and director
  • 2005 - Grant Johannesen, American concert pianist
  • 2005 - Bob Casey, American baseball announcer
  • 2005 - Wilfred Bigelow, Canadian heart surgeon
  • 2004 - Adán Sánchez, Mexican-American singer
  • 2003 - Paul Zindel, American writer
  • 2003 - Ricardo Munguia, Salvadoran aid worker
  • 2003 - Daniel Ceccaldi, French actor
  • 2002 - Billy Wilder, American director
  • 2002 - Dudley Moore, British actor
  • 2002 - Milton Berle, American actor and comedian
  • 2000 - Ian Dury, English musician
  • 1998 - Ferry Porsche, Austrian automobile manufacturer
  • 1998 - David McClelland, American psychologist
  • 1993 - Paul László, Hungarian interior designer and architect
  • 1993 - Clifford Jordan, American saxophonist and bandleader
  • 1992 - Easley Blackwood, American bridge player
  • 1991 - Aldo Ray, American actor
  • 1991 - Ralph Bates, British actor
  • 1989 - Jack Starrett, American actor and film director
  • 1989 - May Allison, American actress
  • 1981 - Mao Dun, Chinese writer
  • 1977 - Diana Hyland, American actress
  • 1977 - A. P. Hamann, American politician
  • 1972 - M.C. Escher, Dutch artist
  • 1972 - Sharkey Bonano, American musician
  • 1967 - Jim Thompson, American designer (disappeared)
  • 1967 - Jaroslav Heyrovský, Czech chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1940 - Michael Joseph Savage, Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • 1931 - Arnold Bennett, British novelist
  • 1927 - Joe Start, American baseball player
  • 1926 - Georges Vézina, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1924 - Walter Parratt, English composer
  • 1923 - Sir James Dewar, Scottish chemist
  • 1918 - Henry Adams, American historian
  • 1910 - Alexander Emanuel Agassiz, American scientist; son of Louis Agassiz
  • 1898 - Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Indian Muslim intellectual
  • 1889 - John Bright, English statesman
  • 1878 - Sir George Gilbert Scott, English architect
  • 1875 - Edgar Quinet, French historian
  • 1873 - Amedée Simon Dominique Thierry, French journalist and historian
  • 1865 - Petrus Hoffman Peerlkamp, Dutch scholar
  • 1864 - Jean-Jacques Ampère, French scholar
  • 1850 - Wilhelm Beer, German astronomer
  • 1849 - Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford
  • 1843 - Karl Salomo Zachariae von Lingenthal, German jurist
  • 1836 - James Fannin, Texas revolutionary
  • 1827 - François Alexandre Frédéric, French social reformer
  • 1809 - Joseph-Marie Vien, French painter
  • 1770 - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Italian artist
  • 1757 - Johann Stamitz, Czech-born composer
  • 1697 - Simon Bradstreet, English colonial magistrate
  • 1635 - Robert Naunton, English politician
  • 1625 - King James I of England and Ireland, James VI of Scotland
  • 1572 - Girolamo Maggi, Italian Renaissance man (b. abt. 1523)
  • 1555 - William Hunter, Protestant martyr
  • 1482 - Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold; wife of Maximilian I
  • 1462 - Vasili II of Russia, Grand Prince of Moscow
  • 1378 - Pope Gregory XI
  • 1350 - King Alfonso XI of Castile
  • 1191 - Pope Clement III
  • 973 - Herman, Duke of Saxony

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dark Chicago

For our Midwestern friends, I have this offering today: Chicago Horror. In browsing the site, I was really pleased to see that they update their content throughout the year. You can plan for the "Retro Zombie Tiki Terror" event on May 24, in Des Plains, or eagerly await Lance Henricksen's arrival at Flashback Weekend on October 23-25. There is a calendar of events for you to browse through, a link to Chicago Vampires and Chicago Zombie, as well as a Chicago Horror links page.The site is easy to navigate and has a nice photo gallery.

Other news today: Hauntcast has a new episode to listen to. Fellow haunter and inspirational prop builder Spookyblue has a new blog post and has posted his how-to page about how he built his latest Brigand. Spookyblue is one of the reasons I started to build props, and he has a bunch of cool projects to build on his site.

Most horrifying news: I turned forty-one today. Gad.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blue Skull

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'd gotten some project out of the kiln at school. Here's the last one, the first of a series of Day of the Dead-themed skulls I plan to create and sell.
He looks charming on Mr. ShellHawk's bookshelf in his office. Neighbor V still says she doesn't find skulls festive. Oh, well!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Shining...With Bunnies

Just in time for Easter...See it here. Angry Alien Productions here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mike Vosburg

(All images are used with permission of Mike Vosburg and belong to him. Don't even think of stealing them!)

In the Wilds of Southern California, a mere stone's throw away from Angeles National Forest, there lives an artist of such talent, that a statue came to live on his mantel. Or maybe it's in his closet by now. I'm not sure.

The statue is an Emmy award, given for his role as director of the HBO animated series, Spawn. "He" is Mike Vosburg, an artist whose work I have enjoyed for years. And you have, too, even though you may not realize it.

Mike has done storyboards for The Chronicles of Narnia, drawn an entire cover run for Tales From the Crypt, and produced artwork for the L.A. museum of Tolerance. He also continues to work on his own graphic novels, Lori Lovecraft and Retrowood.

Mike grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, with a crayon in one hand and a horror comic in the other. His parents were supportive of his interest in art from the beginning, always making sure he had a "healthy supply of materials to work with," as he puts it. He lives in Tujunga with his mild-mannered, jewelry designer wife (and sometimes model), Anna, and is also owned by several cats. He met Anna in 1976 and they married "much later." When you see the two of them together, working on their separate projects in their shared studio, you know this is a true partnership.

I was lucky enough to have Mike answer a few questions for me, so I could share with you.

What first got you interested in comic art?

MV: As soon as I could hold a pencil, I was drawing. I always wanted to be a writer, and started adding pictures to spice up the stories. I found the drawing was a lot more fun than writing and made the switch.

SH: What do you like and dislike about current comic art?
MV: I love the comic book medium, but I am completely disinterested in the business and what they produce. Super hero comics bore me, and they dominate the industry today. I like a wide variety of styles as long as they use dynamic compositions and interesting drawing techniques. Again, the overly stylized rendering of the superhero genre generally leaves me cold.

SH: What's your favorite medium to work with?
MV: I like just pen and ink drawings for comics and storyboards. Painting for illustration is fun; I use acrylics and apply them like watercolor. I always use Photoshop to put tones/word balloons on my comic artwork. It's a very versatile tool.

SH: What was your first art-related job?
MV: I started out as a school teacher after I finished college. I left that after three years to pursue a comic book career. I did my first stories for underground comics... Not much pay and the stories were one step up from amateur.

SH: Who were your influences?
MV: N.C. Wyeth, Bob McGinnis and Bob Peak were the illustrators who inspired me when I was younger. As I've gotten older, the illustrator who is my biggest influence is Robert Fawcett. Joe Kubert, Wally Wood, Leonard Starr, Will Eisner and Alex Toth were the cartoonists who really inspired me.

SH: What gives you the inspiration for Lori Lovecraft, Retrowood, and your ReelArt series?
MV: While I originally created "Linda Lovecraft" back in the 70s as an alternative to drawing super heroes, when I reinvented her as Lori Lovecraft, the ideas generated more from working on Tales From the Crypt and using all my favorite black and white movie favorites for the story ideas. Retrowood is an extension of that as it is set in a Hollywood-like environment in a faux 1930s era, but without the restrictions of doing a straight period piece. ReelArt was an attempt to learn to paint portraits from the best reference material I had available: stills of my favorite movie art.

SH: What do you do to keep your "chops" up?
MV: I constantly doodle in my sketchbooks and try to do at least one life drawing workshop a week. And I try to continue working on my illustrations whenever I can.

Mike tells me he is starting a workshop on Telling Stories in the Pasadena area. Whenever he's not working for a client, he tends to either his Retrowood graphic novel or illustration projects.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The World Builder

My dad sent this to me the other day. I had to share this amazing and poignant short film with you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Many is Too Many?


So I've just joined Twitter. And I wonder whatever possessed me to do so.

Since then, I've been ruminating over the vagaries of the internet and its hypnotic ability to draw us into its sticky Web pages. I took a mental inventory of the sites I'm a member of:
www.ravelry.com, for my knitter's soul.
www.garageofevil.com and www.garageofevil.ning.com

And of course, my Blogger account here. I also check in with a number of blogs almost daily: Pumpkinrot, Ghoulie Girls, My Ghoul Friday, Arana Muerta, Creepy Cupcakes, Dave Lowe's Design blof and his Para Abnormal comic, Spooky Blue's site and blog, Grim Hollow Haunt, Haunt Style, House Bloodthorn, Mr. Macabre, Season of Shadows, The Gallows, Necropolis Manor, Nickols Manor, Stolloween, The Art of Darkness, The Obscure Hollow, and probably a couple others I've forgotten to mention. I'm part of the mailing list for CalHaunts NorCal and Garage of Evil. There are places I shop for art supplies, and books. There are sites I use to research for my blog posts. And honestly, I really can't maintain a prescence on all the sites I've joined, much as I'd like to. It just isn't possible. Little thing called living life, instead of watching other people live theirs.

So I'm left wondering why I joined Twitter. And to top it, I'm further cluttering the net by starting my own website at http://
site.shellhawksnest.com. It's at the very basic stage right now, but I have plans to build it as more projects get done, add some how-tos, and let folks know when I have items for sale.

I must be insane.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Straight From the Zombie's Mouth

Found this on The Art of Darkness yesterday. This is a very important Social Issue that deserves serious thought.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Netherworld Haunted House

I was looking for some inspiration when I ran across Netherworld, a haunted house in Norcross, Georgia (Atlanta area). These guys are real pros, pulling in as much as $1 million a season. Huge cast and crew, with frights and gore galore!

Here's another video:

At a time when a lot of us home haunters are seeing a dropoff in the numbers of Trick-or-Treaters, it does my heart good to see there's still a good turnout for Haunted Houses. And while we humble home haunters don't have their budget, we can still get some ideas of how to make our haunts look more pro.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Works

I finally got some of my ceramics pieces completed. The down side of doing this sort of thing in school, is that you have to wait for enough other students to finish their work before the large kiln can be run. So if you're fast (which I'm not), you still have anywhere from a week to a month for there to be enough work to fill the kiln.

Be that as it may, at last some stuff is done!

For those of you who have no idea how this works, I'll give you the Cliff's notes.

First, you create your piece with any number of different clay techniques. After it's done, it is set to dry out for a few days or a week, depending on how wet the clay is. When it's dry enough, it goes into the kiln to get baked.

If you're lucky and you didn't trap any air bubbles inside your work, it didn't explode in the kiln, and you can go on to the next step. This can be painting your piece (the skull I did up above has been painted, to hide the crack in his head) or deciding which glaze technique you want to use. (It's really a bit more complex than this, but I'm just starting out and have a TON to learn about glazing, etc.)
You pick your colors for your glaze, making sure you don't mix glazes that say, "Don't mix with..." on the side.
I put three coats of each type of glaze on my mutant pitcher, and Mr. ShellHawk looked doubtfully at it. "Are you sure you want to use those colors?" he asked. "Trust me. They'll look completely different when it's finished." He looked dubious, but was willing to go with it.

When that was done, and the kiln was ready to fire the glazed pieces, in they went.
The interesting thing about glazes, is that what you hope for is not always what comes out of the kiln. Heat can do odd things to glazes, causing them to run a little, or even change color. One gal in my class (who's on her fourth semester in ceramics) says she won't use glaze for that reason. She also mentioned that red is the hardest color to expect to stay true. Sometimes it comes out pink, or orange, not the fire engine red it said on the side of the bottle.

Mine turned out pretty well, though. I was expecting more of a crackle finish on my pitcher, but I wasn't at all disappointed with the way the colors turned out. The lumpiness of my beginner's work was a bit disappointing, but overall, I was pretty happy with it.

I also love the way my little pumpkin lantern turned out. I've decided to start making these and plan to sell them on eBay. I'll give you guys a heads-up when they're ready to go. I've also decided to start making a bunch of the little ceramic skulls in a Day of the Dead style (hey, I'm half Mexican. I can plunder my culture if I want!) and sell those, too. Some I'll glaze, and some I'll paint. We'll see how popular they are once they're posted.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Halloween Tree

One of my favorite stories since childhood is Ray Bradbury's "The Halloween Tree." It's one of the few Halloween things my mother did for me: she bought the book for me and even read it to me. I remember the cover you see at the left, with the dynamic original illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini. Lucky me, I managed to hold on to my original copy through two divorces and countless moves.
"The Halloween Tree," for those who have never read it, is a story that combines the exuberance of a group of boys on the best holiday of all, with a mysterious house on the hill, the history of Halloween, death, and, possibly, a deal with Death Himself, in the guise of Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud, (A name that gives you a little shiver down your spine.) to save their frined, Pip's, life. According to Wikipedia, the novel started as a screenplay in 1967, with an eye to having the marvelous Chuck Jones animate it. Sadly, that version wasn't made, but in 1992, Bradbury was successful in getting The Halloween Tree produced, winning an Emmy Award for it. In 2005, he released a longer version of the book, including both his story elements from the screenplay, and the 1967 version.
For those of you with time to spare, I've included as much of the 1992 version as I could find on YouTube. Narrated by Ray Bradbury, himself!

Finally, on October 31, 2007, Disneyland in California invited Bradbury to the unveiling of its very own Halloween Tree, to be part of the park's Halloween decorations every year. About time, I say!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cemetery in Black and White

An offering from Dead Man's Party Films:

I love the old school countdown numbers at the start of the video. Moody and dark, too. Nice stuff!

There was an old, forgotten cemetery in the Burbank hills. A friend dragged me there quite a number of years ago, on a summer afternoon. It was hard to get to: up a skinny, twisting road. When we got out of the car, the caretakers looked at us a little funny (I'm pretty sure it was a family who lived on the property), but they didn't bother us. The place was weedy and it was obvious the caretakers weren't doing their job well at all. Due to heavy rains, evidence of heavy erosion was everywhere. I remember having to walk very carefully through the graves, as sinkholes were all over the place.

Through one or two, we could actually see the caskets.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pain, or, Bad News-Good News

Picture Source
Bad News: My school project-the one I swore I would not rebuild-has died under horrific circumstances which I am too devastated to relay to you. Yes, I will rebuild it, after all.

Good News: A brand-new bottle of five-times distilled Kirkland brand vodka (rumored to be produced by Grey Goose) and some very nice mango martini mix, to wash away the tears.

I will return Monday with a new post. I should be past the worst of the hangover by then.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I was at school yesterday, and had been for awhile. Though class starts at 10:30, I was there at 8:45. I continued working on a project that I've been working on for a month, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and most Fridays, from around 8:30 a.m. to around 1:00 p.m. (Friday isn't a class day, but our teacher allows us to come in and work if we want, since she's there from 8:30 until 3:00.)

Yesterday, I was working on the head. I won't tell you for what, because when the project is finished, I'll post it here, and I don't want to ruin the surprise. I've never had a class on figurative sculpture, and my last college art class was about 20 years ago, so it has been taking me a lot more time on this project than I anticipated. I'm also getting used to the medium (clay), and it's not as easy as most people think it is. I have to make sure there are no air bubbles in the piece, so that it won't explode in the kiln and ruin other people's work along with it. Sometimes building a part of the piece doesn't work out, and has to be removed and redone. Sometimes, you walk into class, and a chunk has fallen off in the two days since you last worked on it. So you have to figure out why it doesn't work, and rebuild it.

So when a different art teacher from mine walked in at the end of class with a reference model for me to borrow (unasked) and proceeded to tell me about calipers and proportions, and how if you don't know what you're doing, your project looks like a mess instead of the cute, lumpy thing you were aiming for, I got a bit riled. I thought, "So you're telling me this piece is a piece of shit? And I don't know what I'm doing? Of course I don't know what I'm doing. I'm a BEGINNER for Chrissake!" I managed to keep silent and feign polite interest.

I listened more, and got a little more riled. After all, I don't know this person. I'm not her student. I didn't even know she was in the room before she swooped down on me like the Wicked Witch of the West (insert theme music here). I don't even know her name. I tried to stem her flow of words with an explanation, but she rode over me. I really hate that. Major pet peeve, when people don't listen to what I'm trying to say. My aggro went up another notch.

Then, a rational thought floated past. "She's trying to help." I stopped and listened for more. "She's trying to help your piece be better. Shut your effing ego up and listen to what she's trying to tell you!"

I shut up and listened. And you know, what she was saying made sense. I know you're probably thinking, "Of course it did. She's the teacher, after all." I'm a little slower about these things sometimes.

Don't get me wrong. There's no doubt in my mind that she needs to learn some people skills. She was definitely brusque and abrasive. But when I looked in her eyes, without my ego-tinted glasses, all I saw was a passion for art and for teaching people to produce the best art they can.

I ended up cutting the head off my piece (which I had painstakingly attached just that morning) and taking it home with me to work on some more. (I worked on it off and on until 7:00 last night, when I had to break for dinner.) Before I left class yesterday, I took the reference piece back to her in the class she was teaching next door and told her thank you, for both the piece and the help.

I talked to Mr. ShellHawk about it when he got home from work. He nodded in agreement when I told him I had to stuff the ego jack-in-the-box back in its little box (having been through a similar lesson or two in his life) and listened to the rest of the conclusions I had drawn.

"It's funny," I told him, "My teacher hasn't really given me a lot of input. She walks around the class and will answer questions, but she just lets us do our own thing. She'll grade us when the projects are done, but I'd really like to know what I can change before it's finished. While I'm still building it, you know?" He nodded. I'm pretty sure he was listening. "In some ways I can understand that she's letting us find our own ways to create art. But when she walks by, I keep expecting some kind of input, and it doesn't come unless I ask. This other woman gave me more concrete advice than I've had all semester, and it's going to change the final outcome of my work."

It's really interesting what can happen when you can set your ego aside and really listen to the correction someone is trying to give you. I don't mean slavishly following every little thing that someone says, or changing what you really know to be true for you. But not taking things personally, not making it about you, can open a lot of doors and make a better result.

I just want you to know, though, that I am so not starting this piece over again from scratch!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thank Goodness For Retailers

I've been so darn busy lately with school and visiting my new acquisitions in the garage (only visiting, as I've been too busy to actually sit down and use any of the ceramics stuff I just bought. Grr.) that I've lost track of time.

It happens to me a lot. I get so wrapped up in doing doing doing, go go go, every day, that I forget what time of year it is. Unless it's Halloween, of course. I can't tell you how many times I glance at a calendar and startle because I've almost missed a birthday or anniversary. Or realize that a Holiday is only a few days away.

I went to that french store, Tar zhay (Target, to the uninitiated) to pick up a couple of things for the house the other day, and had one of those moments. St. Patrick's Day (Amateur Night is what the folks at my favorite Irish Pub, Ireland's 32, call it), once a favorite holiday, is almost here. I'd never buy a green wig, but it made me smile to see the stuff hanging up, waiting for its drunken opportunity to glom on to some unsuspecting head. (I once waitressed on St. Pat's day as a favor to a friend one year. Some guy asked me for a green Guinness. I just looked at him, trying to bore into his alcohol-soaked, pea-sized intellect with the force of my eyes. He just looked at me like I was crazy and told me to go get his drink. I conveniently forgot to return with it. If you think about it, you'll understand why.)

And that sweet, made-over Pagan Holiday, Easter, is nearly here as well. Bunnies and eggs are abundant in all the stores, along with dyeing kits and plastic green grass. Mr. ShellHawk and I are hosting brunch again this year, so over the weekend, I planted various types of seeds in individual pots to give away to our guests at brunch. (Cycle of life, rebirth, renewal. That kind of theme.) The seedlings always look so sweet, sitting above each place setting.

It occurs to me that my life is going through that rebirth and renewal thing now, too. It's about time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Haunted Mansion

One of the things I've been fascinated with is the idea that in order to create one effect, you often have to create it in layers. A perfect example of this is the Haunted Mansion singing busts. Thurl Ravenscroft (a.k.a. Tony the Tiger) was one of Disney's go-to voice actors, and his is one of the voices on the Haunted Mansion ride. The song is done with three actors, video taped at the same time. Their facial expressions are wonderful, and looked fabulous on the final busts... Here's Thurl, who we'll call actor #1:

And actor #2:

And actor #3:

Here's the result with everyone singing their parts:

I think the technical term is "composite," but don't quote me. Isn't composite work part and parcel of what we do as haunters?

For those of you who love the Haunted Mansion, a little of "how they done it." Part one:

Part two:

Coming from a visual effects family, I love seeing the background and development of these marvelous ideas that became the basis for so much inspiration. It's neat to see the sculptures behind the "imagineers," and know they were a step towards such a creative and enduring endeavor. I am so inspired, every time I see this kind of behind the scenes work. It makes me excited to fire up my kiln, really soon...

Hurry back!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pumkin Carving to the 3rd Power

Halloween and pumpkins go hand and hand. Last year, I grew a pumpkin patch in my front yard (much to Mr. ShellHawk's dismay) to add to the ambiance. Sadly I planted too late to have any pumpkins ready for the big night, though I did stick a few store-bought ones around. (This year, though, I am prepared!)

In my quest for the 411 on growing pumpkins, I stumbled
on a group of enthusiastic gardeners, a pumpkin-growing elite. These are the men and women who grow really big pumpkins.

Like, 900lbs big.

And where there are monster pumpkins, there are those who carve them.

Maybe one day, it'll be me carving one of those big boys! And for those of you who want to know the best technique to keep your pumpkins from going fuzzy before their time, go to My Science Project. It looks like they have the definitive answer!

Anyhoo, you can get certified organic pumpkin seeds from Seeds of Change. I like the Howden pum
pkins they carry. You can also get tips on how to grow the Atlantic Giant Pumpkins here. You can get growing and general info about pumpkins at the Pumpkin Nook, or The Pumpkin Patch. If you order some seeds now, you can have them by late April or early May, in time to start growing your Atlantic Giant!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Old Town Haunt, Pasadena

I was searching for some cool California Haunts to share with you, and ran across this YouTube Video. I really wish I had known this Pasadena haunt was around when I lived in L.A.!

What a stroke of luck to be able to create a haunt in one of the oldest buildings in Pasadena!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Nature Abhors A Vacuum

If I'm not mistaken, I was recently caught bragging about how clean my shop area was. I really should have remembered that old saying: Nature Abhors a Vacuum.

I was at Michael's over the weekend, looking for a fine, detail brush for a ceramic piece I was glazing for the class I'm taking. I was also looking for glazes. I managed to capture one on the employees there and ask if they carried glazes. He said no, but a guy and his wife were standing in the same aisle and the guy asked me what I was looking for. I told him, and he said that not only was he getting rid of his glazes, but his whole setup for doing clay and ceramic work. While my eyes widened at this stroke of luck, I pulled myself back by my collar and reminded myself that I've been unemployed since October, and buying a bunch of stuff was probably not the thing to do right now. But I took down his number and let him know I was interested in the glazes, though I'd pass his number along to a classmate who might be looking for the other stuff.
I followed up and called to set up a time to swing by his house and take a look at what he had. He again told me he had a kiln, pottery wheel, plaster table, glazes, and some clay to get rid of. I told him that I'd look at it, but I was pretty sure I couldn't afford the purchase right now. I mentioned that if he wanted to sell, to talk to his wife and come up with a fair price, and I'd talk to my husband about it. I again told him that I'd give his number to someone at school if I couldn't make the purchase myself. We agreed on a time for me to stop by the next day, and hung up.

I swung by his place after school the next day. I had already told Mr. ShellHawk the story, leaving out the part about the kiln, etc., because I was sure the price would be over $1000, and I wasn't willing to spend that. I'd been pricing kilns and I knew you could easily spend $1500 on one once you had added all the shelving and gizmos you would need.

Imagine my surprise when he told me he'd sell all of it for $400. He and his wife are cleaning up the house to sell because they want to move to Idaho, and since they didn't use any of it, he just didn't want it taking up space any more.

I bit my lip. I knew that was a fantastic deal. I stepped outside to call Mr. ShellHawk. (Unless it's for groceries, I won't make a purchase over $200 without consulting him first.) Couldn't reach him. Went back inside to talk to the guy and see if maybe I could leave a deposit to hold the stuff, when Mr. ShellHawk called back. I stepped outside again to talk to Mr. ShellHawk. He was glad I'd called to ask, and left it up to me. I thought about it for part of a second, and
went in to tell the guy I'd take it. We loaded up the kiln in my Explorer, along with what turned out to be around 100lbs of different types of clay, some dried but unfired pieces of his, and some other odds and ends. He promised to load the table and the pottery wheel and deliver it to me the next day, which was yesterday.
Yesterday, as it happened, was also the first day in nearly a week that it didn't rain. One of the projects that has been on hold has been the planting of my hedge roses and various bulbs in the front yard. I got up, took a quick trip to OSH for rose planting mix (the soil in my front yard is hard clay, and the previous owners didn't believe in adding organics, just chemical fertilizers, so the soil quality didn't improve under their care.), and got home and got to it. I had planted five or six roses when my wheel and table arrived, and I had to stop and help unload them from his truck.
After he left, I stood looking at my new acquisitions. Mr. ShellHawk informed me that this would be my birthday gift (I love having someone who wants to give me gifts that I want), which I thought was perfectly fair. I really couldn't ask for anything better (except maybe a new Bucky, but I don't want to be ungrateful.) for my 41st, which is at the end of the month.

Not for the first time, I reflected on the old saying: Luck is when opportunity and preparedness meet.

On a spiritual level, I have been claiming my space as an artist. On a physical level, I cleared the space for that to happen, and began to prepare myself (take a class) for an opportunity. I have been speaking about art of various kinds, I've been thinking about it, I've been putting art vibes out into the Universe. I told the Universe, "I am an artist!" and the Universe answered back, "Yes, you are!" because the Universe always answers in, "Yes." I believe that you are an artist before you ever sell your first piece, even if you never sell your first piece. I believe that you don't need the money to validate your state of being an artist (or writer, or dancer) to anyone else. It's nice to have, don't get me wrong, and it sure helps to buy shop towels and carpet glue, but being paid doesn't make you a successful artist in my mind. Sitting down and making art does.

And I'm so looking forward to sitting down in my shop and making that big, messy thing called, art.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


February 14 was looming on the horizon when Mr. ShellHawk asked me what I wanted to do for the holiday.

"Not my department," I said. "Valentine's Day is your job."

"Oh," he said, "o.k."

He called from work a day or two later and told me we were going wine tasting at a special event in Amador County, something called, "Behind the Cellar Door." I decided it sounded good, even though it didn't sound as if there were monsters behind the cellar door.

We were lucky enough to have a break between rainstorms that day, and were treated to the spectacular views so common to Amador County.

Behind the Cellar Door is an event the Amador Vintners Association puts on every year in order to introduce their new wines. There's food, music, and of course, wine. Mostly reds in that area, but there are some lovely whites and ice wines produced there, too. It's nowhere near as pretentious as Napa has become (other than a special event like Cellar Door, wine tastings here are usually free), and people are friendly and helpful. For instance, since some of the wineries were in the process of pruning their vines, I asked if it would be alright if I took some home with me (I'm always thinking of Halloween uses for stuff). "Absolutely!" was the answer, and they told me where to pick some up. I grabbed a bunch, and plan to play with them very soon.

One of the neat things they do is barrel tasting. They stick something that looks like a faintly mutated turkey baster into a wine barrel, get some wine out, and drop it into your glass. These wines are young, but you can get a feel for what they'll taste like when they're ready to be bottled and sold.

All in all, it was a beautiful day, spent with my favorite person. We discovered some new candies, and a new chocolate truffle company that makes little slices of heaven to share with your sweetheart.

I'm really glad I left Valentine's Day up to Mr. ShellHawk. I was thinking of Friday the 13th, but this turned out to be much more romantic.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Watch This, Not This or, Speed Reviews

Since my craft table is still parked in front of the t.v. in my living room (thank you Mr. ShellHawk for not complaining about the mess too much) due to the cold temperatures in the Garage of Doom, it's been rental season again. The local Blockbuster is only a few blocks away, and they have a decent horror section.

So, a few speed reviews for you...

Boy Eats Girl. A high school boy is accidentally helped by his mom to commit suicide after seeing the girl of his dreams with another boy. She then brings him back with a pagan ritual. She screws up a pretty important part, and he comes back as a flesh-eating zombie.

If you're an old-school, shambling zombie kind of person, this isn't your film. These zombies are track stars. Some wit, some fun, some gore. Still couldn't get past the track star thing. Worth a rental, though.

Most of you have probably already heard of the 8 Films To Die For series:

It's sort of hit and miss with this series. Sometimes you get a good horror flick, sometimes you don't.

Tooth and Nail has a decent premise. The world runs out of gas. Breakdown of society in a very short time. People going south to survive, lawlessness taking a horrifying twist, etc. The twist? Some folks turn cannibal because there's no more food being grown.

Good in theory, not so great on screen. Filming it in an old abandoned hospital, home of many creepy nightmares, didn't help it as much as I think they hoped. Don't bother.

Crazy Eights also had the abandoned hospital thing going on. Some good points, some bad. Worth a rental.Told you this was a speed review!

Then I got to the really good movie, the one I'd been saving like the last piece of Chocolate Morte cake: George Romero's Diary of the Dead.

Loved it. Hard to say who was more ghoulish: the film student insistent on filming everything, or the ghouls themselves. I thought this was a great update of an old friend. Rent this one when you can.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pirates of Emerson

A neat-looking pirate-themed haunt in San Francisco. Love the props!

Pirates of Emerson.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Because Everyone Needs a Road Kill Carpet

For your very own, click here.